Feeling anxious? Free Your Mind with Journaling

Journaling — that almost sounds like a thing of the past, a memory of your childhood or something left for writers.

In fact, it’s something everyone should do, according to Dr. Felisha Sharma, PsyD in Counselling Psychology, especially during these tense times of quarantine. It does much more than preserve your memories — it’s great for your health. Quarantine can be a tough time for emotional stability.

With LifeTales, you can create a video journal, or do it in writing, or both, depending on your mood that day.

We asked Dr. Sharma what to do when anxiety creeps in:

Why does a quarantine trigger mood swings?

With the increased stress and lack of control that we face every day in quarantine, our brains activate the body’s stress response system. People try to regain a sense of control — often by having unrealistic expectations in balancing work, family and personal lives.

This may lead to mood swings and feelings of intense sadness, irritability, hopelessness, guilt, and worthlessness. Social distancing may also increase feelings of loneliness and lack of emotional connection. This may exacerbate stress and reduce your resilience to its effects, resulting ina significant impact on mood.

What are some good practices when stress or anxiety start to appear?

  1. Control the amount of information consumed: Too much information can feel overwhelming and trigger our stress response.
  2. Prioritize Health: Schedule calming healthy behaviors such as meditation, yoga and going for walks. Try to eat healthy nourishing foods, drink water and engage in physical activities.
  3. Create a schedule for work, chores, physical activity, leisure activities, self-care, and meals.
  4. Social Interaction: Connect with loved ones over video calls, over the phone, and through social media. Share what you are feeling and ask for support when you are feeling overwhelmed.
  5. Practice self-compassion and empathy: Allow for flexibility.
  6. Enjoyment: read a book, paint, dance, listen to music or play games. Do the things you enjoy!
  7. Self-awareness: engage in mindfulness techniques or journaling to develop self-awareness and acknowledge your emotions.

How does journaling contribute to mental health?

Journaling is a practice of self-care that can increase an individual’s self-awareness. It allows people to analyze, observe and assess thoughts, emotions, physical sensations and behaviors. It's a process that promotes self-understanding, awareness of mental states and acknowledgment of emotional needs.

This  can be uncomfortable, challenging and even overwhelming at times but through greater self-awareness, people can work towards psychological growth by acknowledging and tending to emotional and mental states.

Dr. Felisha Anisha Sharma has completed her PsyD in Counselling Psychology at City, University of London, in the United Kingdom. She’s a  psychologist (supervised practice) at CBT associates. Previously, she provided short term therapy and psychological assessments for the National Health Services (NHS) in London, United Kingdom. Dr. Sharma also worked for IKWRO, a women’s rights organization providing short- and long-term therapy to women experiencing domestic violence and abuse. Dr. Sharma has experience in providing group therapy for Domestic Violence, Assertiveness Training, Mindfulness Parenting Groups, and Mindfulness Groups.

Reference: Rapee, R., Craske, M., Meadows, E., Moras, K., Zinbarg, R., & Barlow, D. (1991). The causes of anxiety, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. Center for Stress and Anxiety Disorders Phobia and Anxiety Disorders Clinic.

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